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Top 10 Children's Books for Black History Month

10 inspirational books for Black History Month - grades K-5

Looking for great books about the African-American experience? Share stories of African Americans that will deepen children's understanding of history and social issues. Our 10 top children's books for Black History Month are paired with teaching guides to help you explain each story and engage students in learning about slavery, civil rights issues, and African-American leaders.
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These Hands Teaching Guide
These Hands by Margaret H. Mason

During the 1950s and early 1960s, African American workers at many large-scale bakery factories weren't allowed to work as bread dough mixers or bread dough handlers. This children's book by Margaret H. Mason introduces this labor and civil rights issue to young children.

Classroom Resource: Use the discussion questions and pre- and post-reading activities in These Hands Teacher's Guide to educate young students about segregation and the history of the civil rights movement in America.

Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

This story makes a great read aloud for your class. The picture book's rhythmic text transports children back in time to the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955–1956. It takes students on a journey through historical events that led to the eventual end of racial segregation on buses.

Classroom Resource: Use this Teacher's Guide to Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation as you study civil rights during 1950s America. This literature guide includes discussion questions about the Montgomery Bus Boycott, segregation, Rosa Parks, the Jim Crow laws, and nonviolent resistance. It also describes creative-writing activities, music activities, and community activism ideas for your class.

Hope's Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons
Hope's Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons
Hope is a young girl when her father joins the Union army to fight for freedom. One night, he slips away, leaving Hope a conch shell for comfort. Its sound, her father says, echoes the promised song of freedom. After a long wait for freedom, Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and Hope is finally reunited with her father. Use this touching story to teach young children about slavery, the U.S. Civil War, and the Emancipation Proclamation.

Classroom Resource: This Discussion & Activity Guide for Hope's Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons includes lesson plans and activities that align with Common Core reading standards. After reading the book, students will make an Emancipation Proclamation timeline, listen to a Negro spiritual, and write a poem about freedom.

Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons
Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons

Teach young children about the lives of former slaves and their families during the Reconstruction Era with this picture book by Kelly Starling Lyons. In the children's story, Ellen learns the significance of the family broom as her parents—both former slaves—legally register their marriage.

Classroom Resource: Ellen's Broom Discussion Guide & Activities includes pre-reading and post-reading discussion questions and art activities to extend students' learning.

Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes
Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes
In short vignettes, a mother shares the story of Barack Obama, a man who brings hope and promise to young people today. This picture-book biography of the 44th President of the United States is a moving story about his childhood.

Classroom Resource: Study the life of Barack Obama with this Educator's Guide to Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope. Resources includes pre-reading questions, discussion topics, and cross-curricular projects to further young children's knowledge of this important political figure.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade
Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade

This informational picture book details the unlikely and enduring friendship of two prominent equal rights activists — Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass — who worked together to gain equality for women and African Americans. Together, they changed America.

Classroom Resource: Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass Activity & Discussion Guide includes pre- and post-reading questions, activities, and coloring sheets. Students will explore what freedom and equality means to them, draw their own book cover, and host a classroom debate.

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz
Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz

This picture book biography of Malcolm X, written by his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz, emphasizes the enduring values and lessons that young Malcolm learned from his parents.

Classroom Resource: Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X Common Core Curriculum Guide contains discussion questions and classroom activities to use with the story.

Don't Say Ain't by Irene Smalls
Don't Say Ain't by Irene Smalls
In the 1950s, Dana struggles to live in two worlds—her Harlem neighborhood and the advanced school she attends—while staying true to herself. Irene Smalls and Colin Bootman team up in this heart-warming story of friendship, integration, opportunity, and hard choices.

Classroom Resource: Don't Say Ain't Discussion Guide will help you promote thoughtful discussion on race, language, civil rights, and diversity. It includes information on integration in the 1950s and questions to ask your students.

I Have Heard of a Land by Joyce Carol Thomas
I Have Heard of a Land by Joyce Carol Thomas

Inspired by her family's history, this picture book by Joyce Carol Thomas explores the experience of African-American pioneers — brave men and women — who participated in the Oklahoma Land Runs of the late 1880s.

Classroom Resource: I Have Heard of a Land Teacher's Guide includes cross-curricular activities and questions for group discussion. Children will learn about African-American pioneers and the Oklahoma Land Runs of the late 1880s.

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison
Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Introduce young students to the work of Nobel prize-winning writer Toni Morrison with this narrated pictorial journey of school desegregation in the 1950s.

Classroom Resource: Remember: The Journey to School Integration Teacher's Guide includes discussion questions, photographs, and online resources to increase students' knowledge of the civil rights movement in America.

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